• 13 MAY 07
    • 0

    #723: Another possible cancer cluster at an Australian University

    Well, here we go again, another suspected cancer cluster in a university building and they are bringing in the experts to access the situation (Remember RMIT?). Dr Bruce Armstrong, who headed the ABC Toowong expert panel is mentioned in the below article so I suppose he will head the expert team that will be set up. If that is the case, any possibility of EMF / ELF being a factor has already been dismissed as implausable.

    If it turns out that EMF/ELF may be a possible issue (and it well may not), will the Experts ensure that adequate EMF/ELF measurements are taken or will we see the same incompetancy as was so clearly demonstarted at the ABC Toowong Studios? Perhaps EMC Technologies will be called in to measure RF only while ignoring ELF, as they did at Toowong – then the expert panel patiently waits another two years before having ARPANSA do a quick ELF walk around doing a dodgy survey that finds nothing – as they did at Toowong.

    But dont worry – the university’s deputy vice-chancellor said the investigation would be open and transparent.

    I suppose just like at Toowong…………….



    University brings in experts as staff fears of cancer cluster grow

    Ruth Pollard Health Reporter
    May 12, 2007

    THE University of NSW is investigating a possible cancer cluster after staff expressed concerns about the high incidence of the disease among those working in a building on its Kensington campus.

    In an email to staff on Monday, the senior associate dean of the faculty of arts and social sciences, Sarah Maddison, said the university would appoint an epidemiologist to review the history of illness in the Morven Brown building.

    “This expert will assess whether the number of these cases is abnormally high “ and, if it is, give an opinion on whether and how their cause might be attributable to environmental factors.”

    While staff were relieved the university had acted, the National Tertiary Education Union’s branch president, Susan Price, who also works in the building, said many were worried the investigation would be limited to one form of cancer.

    Dr Maddison said the decision on the scope of the investigation would be made by the epidemiologist, not the university. Other staff were concerned that Dr Maddison’s email indicated the university had prejudged the investigation’s findings.

    The email reads: “Without pre-empting the report’s findings, I would like to reassure all staff that the most likely outcome of this process is a finding that the incidence of breast cancer in Morven Brown is not higher than that in the broader community.”

    Ms Price said that for many staff in the building this was not reassuring. “Every time you heard of a new colleague diagnosed with a cancer-related illness, people were concerned that it might have something to do with the building or outside the building.” It was unclear how many staff are affected, although the Herald understands there have been two deaths and several cancer diagnoses in the past few years.

    The five-storey building houses the arts faculty schools including English, media and performing arts, social science, history and philosophy, languages and linguistics, as well as language laboratories, the dean’s unit and classrooms.

    Cancer cluster investigations must first establish whether the number of cancers occurring in that area are higher than in the general community. Other factors such as a family history of cancer and whether people smoked or drank alcohol must also be considered, a professor of public health and medical foundation fellow at the Sydney Cancer Centre at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Bruce Armstrong, said.

    Professor Armstrong investigated the cluster of cancer cases at the ABC studios in Brisbane.

    If a cluster was established, the next step was to look at whether there are plausible workplace or environmental factors in the area, he said.

    The university’s deputy vice-chancellor (academic), Richard Henry, said the investigation would be open
    and transparent.

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